US House of Representative Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both expressed hope for a breakthrough on COVID-19 relief on September 30, as they prepared to resume talks aimed at hammering out a bipartisan deal.
As House lawmakers began moving forward on a new $2.2 trillion Democratic coronavirus stimulus bill, Mnuchin said he thought that he and Pelosi could "reach a reasonable compromise" and would know in the next day or two whether they had an "overall understanding."
"We're both making a good faith effort to try to get this done. And I think we want to figure out whether we can get it done, and if not, move on," the Treasury secretary told a CNBC investor conference.
Mnuchin said he would pursue negotiations after the Nov. 3 election if no deal is reached ahead of it.
In a separate interview with MSNBC, Pelosi said: "I'm hopeful. We'll just see what they come back with today and how our negotiations go next."
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
She and Mnuchin spoke for about 50 minutes on Tuesday. It was not clear when the two would speak on Wednesday.
The House Rules Committee is debating an updated Heroes Act coronavirus relief package, which House Democrats unveiled on Monday. The panel would set the parameters for a House floor debate and vote on passage, but much depended on the outcome of Pelosi's conversation with Mnuchin.
"It's a negotiation. We won't get everything we want," Pelosi said.
Formal talks between Pelosi, Mnuchin, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows broke down on Aug. 7. Pelosi has since taken the lead for Democrats.
She and Schumer initially pressed for a $3.4 trillion relief package but scaled back their demands by over a $1 trillion. The White House began at $1 trillion proposal and later said Trump could agree to $1.3 trillion.
A report from Height Securities said Mnuchin could give Pelosi an offer of $1.5 trillion to $1.6 trillion on Wednesday.
Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.